Delhi High Court has been informed by the city government that it released funds as food security allowance for children when schools were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At present, midday meals are provided to children in government schools as COVID-19 restrictions are no longer in force, the government told the high court.
The submissions were made in a pending petition from 2020 that had sought directions to the Delhi government to provide cooked midday meals or food security allowances to eligible children during the COVID-19 lockdown when schools in the national capital were shut.
Considering the arrangements made by the government, the high court said no further orders were required to be passed in the matter.
“In light of the aforesaid, no further orders are required to be passed in the present PIL (public interest litigation). Further, in case any beneficiary is disputing the quantum of funds received by the government, he/she shall certainly be free to take recourse as may be available in accordance with law. With these observations, the PIL is disposed of,” a bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad said.
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Petitioner NGO Mahila Ekta Manch said the purpose of providing midday meals or food security allowance was to boost the immunity of poor children during the pandemic.
The Director of Education of the Delhi government, in an affidavit, said funds were distributed as payment of food security allowance through direct benefit transfers in lieu of midday meals with effect from March 2020.
The affidavit further said the Centre had so far released Rs 27 crore for 2020-21 as ad hoc payment and the total funds allocated by the central government to the Delhi government was to the tune of Rs 106 crore.
It said mid-day meals are provided for schoolchildren between Class 1 to 8 and, as per a July 2019 circular, state governments must bear 40 per cent of the cooking costs and the central government bears the remainder of expenses.
In Delhi, the state contributes 40 per cent of the cooking costs and 40 per cent of payments to CCH (workers who help prepare and provide midday meals) and all other costs, including that of foodgrains and other supplies are borne by the Centre, the affidavit said.